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Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Proboscidea
Family: Elephantidae
Tribe: Elephantini
Genus: Mammuthus
Brookes, 1828
Type species
Mammuthus primigenius
Blumenbach, 1799 (originally Elephas)
  • Archidiskodon Pohling, 1888
  • Mammonteus
  • Parelephas Osborn, 1924

A mammoth is any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, proboscideans commonly equipped with long, curved tusks and a covering of long hair. They lived from the Pliocene epoch (from around 5 million years ago) into the Holocene at about 4,500 years ago in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. They were members of the family Elephantidae, which also contains the two genera of modern elephants and their ancestors. Mammoths stem from an ancestral species called M. africanavus, the African mammoth. These mammoths lived in northern Africa and disappeared about 3 or 4 million years ago. Descendants of these mammoths moved north and eventually covered most of Eurasia. These were M. meridionalis, the 'southern mammoths'.



The earliest known proboscideans, the order that contains the elephants, existed about 55 million years ago around the Tethys Sea area. The closest relatives of the Proboscidea are the sirenians and then hyraxes. The family Elephantidae is known to have existed six million years ago in Africa, and includes many elephant genera like the mammoths. Among many now extinct proboscidean families, the mastodon is only a distant relative of the mammoths, and part of the Mammutidae family, which diverged 25 million years before the mammoths evolved and convergently evolve large body hair.